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Real estate firm behind first ‘gold bond’ books solid 2022

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GT’s VTrust Tower in Phnom Penh. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Real estate firm behind first ‘gold bond’ books solid 2022

Golden Tree Co Ltd (GT), the real estate firm behind the Kingdom’s first green bond, reported sound business performance last year, amid economic stress stemming from the Ukraine conflict and prolonged Covid-19 crisis.

On January 19, GT listed the corporate bond on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), raising 6.0721 billion riel ($1.46 million) to expand its business, in what has been hailed as a milestone in the development of the local bourse.

In its filing to the CSX on April 4, GT reported average occupancy rate at 83 per cent for 2022 – compared to the 72 per cent it gave as the industry average – and noted that its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) margin remained above 70 per cent.

The firm said it embarked on several initiatives last year, aiming to ensure a competitive edge.

GT CEO Hong Uy affirmed in the filing that the company is working to improve corporate governance and financial management to achieve sustainable growth and build trust from public investors.

“We are embarking on sustainability to do our part in fighting climate changes as well as to differentiate [ourselves] from industry peers. Green building also improves air quality and comfort for all our tenants, as [a] much-needed feature during this Covid-19 pandemic.

“The green feature has brought us a lot of domino effects. We went further [in, to] integrate our financing strategies toward sustainability. We issued our green bond [and] listed on CSX successfully on January 19, 2023.”

Also speaking in the filing, GT chairman Kuy Vat hailed 2022 as a year of transformation for the company.

He recalled that the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, awarded Cambodia’s first EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies) green-building certification for commercial office projects to GT’s VTrust Tower in the capital.

The green-bond issuance came just over three months after the debt security was given in-principle approval by the Securities and Exchange Regulator of Cambodia (SERC) in October, he added.

“We have done a lot in one year even though the economy in Cambodia just started improving after the pandemic. We position ourselves to take on opportunities when the strong rebound comes back.

“Nonetheless, we are aware and vigilant [of] economic risks. High inflation, high interest rate[s] and [an] influx of new … office [supply] in the next few years can [exert] tremendous pressure on the occupancy and rental rate[s] as well as interest rate[s] for financing.

“In spite of those challenges, it also creates tremendous opportunities for [those who] are ready to adapt. We have strategised our plan for new businesses and growth. We are focusing on streamlining our strategies and policies which sufficient flexibility in order to handle any future changes,” Vat said.

“We are confident that 2023 will bring us more successes.”

Meanwhile, according to CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group Inc, some 1,500 new condominium units and 200 new villas are expected to be completed soon on Phnom Penh’s most famous man-made island, Koh Pich.

The much-anticipated bridge linking Koh Pich to Koh Norea – another man-made island – is set to be finished by end-2023, the real estate firm said.

The launch of nine new commercial developments in 2022 brought the total retail space in Phnom Penh to more than 613,000sqm, it reported early this year.

The new establishments added more than 200,000sqm of retail space in the capital, marking a 179 per cent increase in area versus the seven projects totalling over 73,000sqm that were completed and put on the market in 2019, it noted.

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